Save Mount Diablo answers ‘nature deficit disorder’ by bringing kids to foothills

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Faced with the normal pressures of high school and all that extra work for college Advanced Placement courses, 16-year-old Rosemary Alcala finds little time to venture out into nature

“I’m pretty studious,” the Antioch High School student said. “Sometimes, I don’t see the outside for days.”

Alcala isn’t alone in spending more time inside than out. Teens often don’t have the transportation or financial means to get out into the great outdoors and learn about nature, says her environmental sciences teacher, Jessica Govoni.

That’s where Save Mount Diablo comes in. To tackle the disturbing trend of “nature deficit disorder,” the land conservation nonprofit aims to teach youth to appreciate nature and possibly help preserve it in the future. Through its Conservation Collaboration Agreement program, the nonprofit pairs schools with business sponsors, teachers, volunteers and Save Mount Diablo staff in the effort.

“It was really difficult to get the students interested in it at first — some academically driven, some apathetic about going on a hike, “ Govoni said, noting 27 out of her 69 environmental science students participated. “They fought it the whole way, but once there, there were smiles and good moods, and when we left, they were fresh-eyed and pleased with themselves afterward.”

Save Mount Diablo launched the program two years ago with rotating middle and high schools in Central Contra Costa County, and added Antioch High School this year, according to the nonprofit’s communications manager, Caleb H. Castle.

“We are hoping to connect kids that are underserved and might not have the opportunity to get out and connect with nature,” he said. “We want to create an ongoing relationship with these teachers and students.”

Castle pointed out that according to a 2017 report, “The Path Ahead,” commissioned by REI Co-op, today’s children “spend less time outside than prison inmates, with the average child playing freely outside for just four to seven minutes a day.” The average American, he said, now spends 95 percent of his time indoors, according to the report.

“As a result, we are becoming an indoor species, which comes with consequences,” the REI report states. “Our health and well-being may suffer. And the less we value our outdoor spaces, the less likely we are to protect them. It’s a slippery slope.”

Early last month, Save Mount Diablo gave a presentation on conserving the mountain to Antioch High School students

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle


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